Over the past decade, participants in Asia Pacific have stressed the need for a multilayered security architecture to offset an absence of mature regional institutions. ASEAN is one of these institutions; as it has promoted deep political integration. Recently it pledged an ASEAN political security community blueprint slated for implementation in 2025 (though some question whether this commitment stems from genuine community spirit or Chinese competition for power). Regardless, ASEAN remains a cornerstone institution within this complex mix, while bilateral security alliances centred around the United States continue to bolster regional stability.
There’s something quite reassuring in knowing you have options if something goes wrong – such as when out running errands. Academic search engines for Asia-Pacific security studies reveal only limited analyses from a critical standpoint of these dynamics, with papers covering traditional issues like South China Sea disputes; China’s rise; counterterrorism/counterinsurgency approaches and US role in this region dominating regional security agenda papers. Katrina Lee-Koo and Barbara Trojanowska provide an exception with their paper on regional responses to the emerging international normative agenda of women, peace, and security (WPS). Their article illustrates a central challenge faced by scholars of critical theory: mediating between universal principles and cultural context, ideals and political reality.